“The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night. (Psalm 121:5-6)”
As many of you know, a few years back I walked an old pilgrimage route across northern Spain called the Camino de Santiago. Much of the route winds through cute medieval Spanish towns, through vineyards or through tree-covered mountains. But for parts of the route, you are out in the middle of the Spanish heat with nothing between you and the bright sun in the sky.
On one of those parts of the path, I found myself walking alone for the day with an empty water bottle, heat in the high 90s and not a tree for miles. The constant heat began to make me delirious. I tied the scarf that had been shielding my neck from the sun into a turban around my head. I tried to hide behind the shade of my own backpack on my back. Eventually I walked past a street sign and got an idea. I positioned my face in the shadow of the street sign. Shade. I had never wanted it so bad.
I’m sure the Psalmist understood this very real need to escape from the sun. But even those of us who normally spend our days indoors in offices or homes understand this metaphor, this need for “shade.” We know the need to escape the relentless pressure, endless pain or nonstop stress that sometimes dog us. We need shade. We need relief and shelter from the heat.
In Psalm 121 the Psalmist promises us that the Lord accompanies and watches us and that our God is the shade to our unrelenting circumstances. God is our relief. My prayer for us this Monday is that we would feel the shade of the Lord hovering over our lives today.